Friday 22 May 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, May 22, 2020

There is no way you can look at Mohamed Torokman’s picture without a smile appearing on your face. It’s reminiscent of images of Olympic breaststroke swimmers coming up for air when, for a split second, a film of water covers their faces, distorting their features. What is special about this image is that not only can you see the boy just under water cooling himself but you get a sense of the place with other swimmers in the background.  

A Palestinian boy dips in a natural spring to cool off during a heat wave, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), near Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank May 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Maybe it’s the extra grip the rubber gloves that allows the hairdresser to pull the hair a little tighter, but the slight grimace in Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s picture lets us know that for sure it hurts a little. I love the muted colours in this picture, the white set against the solid black of the background, and the tiny, but all so important, fringe of hair that is about to be clipped off.      

A boy gets his hair cut by hairdresser Youssif Hamada at his home in Cairo, amidst the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Egypt, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

One of many from a terrific sequence of images by Abubaker Lubowa of an arrest. What gives this one is the edge for me is the fate of the fallen glasses that Stella is looking down at. They are beyond rescue. What I would not give to have the arm of the glasses extended to match the other side perfectly, but life is imperfect, so I will settle for what is here. Read on here

Ugandan academic Stella Nyanzi looks at her glasses as police officers detain her for protesting against the way that government distributes relief food and the lockdown situation to control the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kampala, Uganda May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa

Siphiwe Sibeko has given me a dilemma, which I hand to you. I can’t choose which picture I like best. Do you prefer the strong diagonals of vast queues of people that create compositional lines that stretch to the horizons, cutting across the powerful orange and blue colours in this first image? We are immediately grabbed by the shape and colour and left in no doubt as to how many are in need of food handouts. Read on here

People stand in a queue to receive food aid amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Itireleng informal settlement, near Laudium suburb in Pretoria, South Africa, May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Or do you prefer this second image? The dynamic compositional relationship of the orange and blues bisected by lines is not as strong, but that is countered by the powerful horizonal shapes made by the queues of people. Secondly, we don’t quite get the same sense of just how many people are queuing, as the queues are less defined in the background. But what we do get is a greater understanding of the individuals waiting in line. Just look at that woman in pink in the foreground, hands on hips as she takes a long stride and moves slowly forward.

People stand in a queue to receive food aid amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Itireleng informal settlement, near Laudium suburb in Pretoria, South Africa, May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

There is no other way to put it, Temilade Adelaja makes you work hard to look at her picture. The centrally placed square-shaped highlight is quite abstract. We really don’t know what it is, but the eye is continually drawn to it and it dominates the image. We then get to see the figure lying in the gloom, on the floor and barely lit. Finally, we see the corrugated iron roofing and we get the sense of poverty. But this picture is about light and not poverty and we’ve been drawn into the story so read on here.

A beneficiary of a Salpha Energy solar panel home installation, Recent Kodjo, lies on a wrapper in her room illuminated by a solar-powered bulb, in Sagbo-Kodji community, amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lagos, Nigeria April 25, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

Just look at the faces in Clovis Guy Siboniyo’s picture. Every single one of these young men is  looking at the elder woman casting her vote. And just look at her expression too, determined, dignified and strong. Great too that the highlight of her profile is captured between the shadows on the man’s red shirt and the shadow cast by the security lock of the ballot box or it could so easily be lost in the busy and harshly lit picture.

A voter casts her ballot at a polling station during the presidential, legislative and communal council elections, under the simmering political violence and the growing threat of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ngozi, Burundi May 20, 2020. REUTERS/Clovis Guy Siboniyo

I can’t help feeling that this girl got a little more than she bargained for when she no doubt pleaded to have the bucket of water thrown on her in Ali Hashisho’s affectionate picture. Arms spread out, feet firmly placed and then splash, the force of the water pushing her head, and her hair, to one side. The slow shutter speed accentuates the speed and volume of the water. From my own experience of parenthood, if mum was watching I am sure a telling-off would quickly be issued – but what a wonderful memory of childhood Ali has captured.  

A man throws water on a girl playing in a pool, during a hot weather, amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sidon, southern Lebanon May 21, 2020. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho

It’s an old visual trick, replacing a person’s head with a shape, object or ball. Sometimes it works better than at other times and on this occasion, I think Khaled Abdullah’s fun picture works well. Enjoy the smile from Yemen.

A man carries his son who holds a balloon outside a shopping mall ahead of Eid al-Fitr holiday, amid concerns of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Sanaa, Yemen May 17, 2020.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah 

Hard to socially distance when you are visually impaired and touch is so important. Temilade Adelaja has shot a clever set of pictures to illustrate this personal struggle. The image is exposed for the highlights of a harsh sliver of light, and we are only able to see a fraction of what is there. Look very hard and you see a second person, hand held for guidance. Read on here.  

Shobowale Kehinde, 28, an entertainer who is visually impaired, walks through the corridor at his church with assistance from his friend amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lagos, Nigeria May 5, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja

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